Graham graduated from high school…
with a diploma and not just a certificate of completion. Once he graduated, he and his parents began to wonder, “What comes next?”
They asked this question to their network of people, all of whom also had or were family members of those with disabilities.
The answer: “Send him to a day program!” But Graham found it to be boring. It reminded him too much of all the bad things he didn’t like about being in school. Instead of saying, “What comes next?” it seemed to him that everyone around him said, “This is it! For the rest of your life!”
It was not enough…
And so Graham and his family were presented with a different option.
With guidance, people from the Mattingly Center helped Graham transition from spending days at the day program to receiving one-on-one supports in his home so that he could start working on the “What comes next?” of his life.
Graham got paired with a Community Facilitator named Steven…
who began coming to Graham’s house three times per week, helping him get up and get ready for the day. He learned how Graham moved around his house, and what it looked like for Graham to cook dinner, and what it looked like for Graham to operate a computer. They talked for hours about what Graham’s interests were and what, if there were no limitations, would Graham want to spend his life doing? Graham identified several things he was interested in: bowling, theme parks, theater patronage, live music, magic, and a job so he could support himself.
They found a bowling alley near Graham’s house and looked into bowling leagues. They thought together, “What would it take for Graham to be an integrated member of a regular bowling league instead of one made only of disabled people?” For one shift a week, they bowled and tried to increase their bowling competencies.
Graham also stated that he was interested in kayaking…
They discovered that a company in Frankfort, Kentucky hosted kayaking classes. Graham and Steven scheduled admission to this class and drove there on a Saturday morning. Parents and friends worried that Graham would not be able to kayak, but Graham insisted he would like to try. They kayaked for six miles.
Along the way, Steven and Graham talked about hiring additional people to help Graham explore his growing list of hobbies and to expand his social network. Enter John Ray, who used to bowl when he was in high school.
Steven helped Graham come up with a list of interview questions and they role-played back and forth until Graham felt he could successfully interview and determine whether he would like to hire John Ray on as an additional support person. From the answers he received, Graham decided that John Ray would be a great match.
Each person’s role with Graham has evolved over the few months they have begun working together as a team.
John Ray and Graham began attempting to brew beer…
and successfully bottled their first batch, an amber lager. Graham organizes “tapping parties” regularly to share his brews with friends, family, and neighbors.
Through each of these avenues, Graham’s network grows and expands. He meets new people who share his common interests, and the more people he meets, the more opportunities he receives.
Graham’s current main goal is to obtain a job in which he can excel…
preferably something involving computers. He and his employment specialist have been exploring video editing software to see if Graham might be interested in pursuing a job in that field. Like other young men his age, Graham is quite computer savvy.
Graham has reported seeing himself as more of an adult…
He has begun to dress differently. He has begun to do things on his own instead of waiting for his mother to do them for him. His confidence has doubled and then tripled as he realizes that he has the right to assert himself. After attending the 2016 TASH conference and meeting other people with disabilities living typical lives, Graham made the decision that he would like to try attending college. He has begun visiting local universities to see if one of them would be a good fit for him. He currently expresses an interest in studying Philosophy.
He is blossoming into a young man who wants a career, who wants a girlfriend, and who wants to live in a home of his own, all things he never really thought about as a participant in the day program.
Many things he, nor his parents, ever thought possible, now seem like they could be realities.
Things that he can do. Things that he will do.